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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  September 22, 2014 12:00am-1:41am EDT

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building and parts of the supreme court chambers brought back with the original carpets and walls. the next phase of work is to complete the entire restoration and repair project. these other projects were leading up to the bigger project. it is one of those things that evolved from small projects to the bigger project today. when this building open to the public, i think people were amazed. that is one word you often read about. they often lost their breath walking into the rotunda because it is a 142-foot inner ceiling where you look up and see this big six-foot wide chandelier. i think there were a lot of oohs and ahhs and people were amazed by the beauty of the architecture. they had seen the outside built for nine years. when you walk in, the color schemes were perfect. it is a nice warm building. it is a space where people can feel welcome because you have easy access to the different chambers. you are part of this building. you are part of the government. that was the intent.
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critics all over the united states marveled at it as well. one thing st. paul people were living with was the idea we were still on the frontier. we were at the turn of the 19 century and people were still thinking we lived in log cabins and did not have much of modern conveniences. for the people back east making those judgments to see favorable reports and artists and architects commenting about the greatness of this building that really made st. paul come up a notch culturally. it was a center of culture for st. paul and the state of minnesota. i think people were proud to say we have arrived. you can't call us a backwoods frontier state anymore. our building rivals anything you can build in new york or philadelphia. that was nice for the people of the state to say we have a marvelous building that will stand the test of time.
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>> throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring st. paul, minnesota. our staff recently traveled there to learn about its rich history. learn more about st. paul and other stops at www.c-span.org/localcontent. you are watching american history tv all weekend on c-span3. >> next, former members of resident exits national security council discusses efforts to form a comprehensive national security possibly -- policy that drew on dust they discussed his policies toward egypt and israel during the yom kippur war. they also encourage diplomatic relations with china during the cold war. this event was cohosted by the national archives and the richard nixon foundation is about 90 minutes. >> i wanted to talk, this is
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going to be the first in a several-part series on how it the nixon administration change the world. particularly, henry kissinger, kissinger's national security council. it led to the first middle east peace agreement in probably 2000 years. what gets lost in this amazing series of successes is how president nixon and his very able foreign-policy adviser henry kissinger transformed the national security decision-making structure. on the very first day of the administration, these innovations created the groundwork for all of the
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successes they were able to achieve in the next and poshard presidency -- nixon presidency. and you might say, that is more about good housekeeping is that a brilliant policymaking. but they realized that the key to a successful foreign-policy was dedication. they discussed how they wanted to structure the national security council staff. nixon learned firsthand about a good counsel when he was eisenhower poshard vice president. eisenhower poshard security -- eisenhower's security council was more like a military-based one. this allowed eisenhower to deal with the day-to-day crisis, as well as to devote to more strategic planning. more so, in his memoirs, richard
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nixon complained that a lot of eisenhower's time was wasted. nixon's personal preference was to do things on paper, he said he to get briefings through memoranda rather than on -- them through meetings. the other shortcomings of the eisenhower system was because it was the military. so when decisions were made on the lower level, and the boss got these decisions, it was a yes or no, or choosing from a, b, or c. nixon saw first hand of the weakness of their foreign policy decision-making processes. he thought that kennedy and johnson were as -- were also more of an ad hoc crisis decision-making process. at the end of the johnson administration, decisions were made by a few people on a regular tuesday luncheon,
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because johnson it that point, was afraid of leaks. together, kissinger and nixon were formed the national security structure. now, people talk about the national security council, and it is important to make it a station, that the national security council is something that is mandated by law by the national security act of 1947. there are three members, the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state. the national security council staff, which is what more people refer to, is in fact the staffers who prepare the documents for that top level group. in nixon's book, he said that eisenhower made the selection because he wanted dulles to be the chief foreign-policy administrator. but nixon wanted firm policy
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directive from the white house. kissinger described the johnson administration process that i talked about as lacking focus. there was not a lot of preparation in the staff were, and decisions were made, more or less, on-the-fly. the administration became hostage and prisoners to the events of the day, and were not able to formulate how they were strategically able to deal with things. nixon thank you figure did not do it all alone, despite what their memoirs might have said. -- nixon and kissinger did not do it alone, despite what their memoirs might have said. he is a national recognized scholar at stanford university when nixon tapped him. once nixon became president, richard allen came the deputy director of the national
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security council. john lehman, sitting next to him, joined the campaign staff in 1968. laymen became the national security council staff head of affairs, and often had a very testy relationship between the white house and congress, particularly during the vietnam war. john lehman personally gave henry kissinger headaches for his gossip colin -- gossip column whispers about kissing her be the most eligible bachelor. -- about kissinger being the most eligible bachelor. now the tillman was they -- now this gentleman was in the demonstration and joined the staff at the very beginning. he probably became henry kissinger's closest associate throughout the ministration. they worked throughout the vietnam peace negotiations through other foreign-policy
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issues, and particularly, opening to china, particularly, it was created in that office. they were talking about the opening to china. winston helped to plan and was part of the secret trip -- kissinger cosh -- kissinger's secret trip. winston accompanied him on every one of his secret trips, he was later made the ambassador to china, i was also kissinger's right-hand man. he was also a close personal confidant. and bud was a vietnam veteran in
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the marine corps. he joined the kissinger staff in 1971. but like winston, but mcfarlane -- but mcfarlane soon expanded his roles. he was able to do many things. with that, i would like to talk to these gentlemen about their recollections and remembrances, and a good point in the bad points, about how to change the world. i would like to start with you dick. nixon had given a lot of thought to these issues. the prompted him to wanted to change -- to want to change the nsc system?
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>> he was informed as to how he was structure things as president. his personality was such that he insisted on planning. he spent hours and hours and hours reading, mostly reading, some writing, and lots of travel, before he became president. he had the opportunity to see american foreign-policy in disarray. he thought that all of the elements of national power should be brought together under the rubric of national security. it was not a particular policy toward a conglomerate of states. it was military power, it was economic power, it is our position in the world, it is even down to, and including, information and how we presented ourselves. we did a fairly efficient job, although we were highly
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criticized. nixon was highly critical of and wanted to inform it. his idea was the comprehensive national security strategy, harnessing all of the components. in order to do that, he spent hours and hours and hours of the time that i knew him, and that was a long time, and that as president, and in the transition. , charged kissinger and us with doing just what he wanted to do. organizing and bringing decision-making back into the white house where properly belong. >> nixon got elected in november of 1968, and took office in january of 1969. in that. of time, that is when you crafted this whole new system. -- in that. of time, that is when you crafted this whole new system.
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>> yes. >> how is a codified? werther pieces of paper -- were there pieces of paper? the cia, what it other departments think about this? >> i don't think people were particularly fond of this at the beginning. one of president nixon's biographies was so battered by the washington establishment during his years in the congress and as senator because he was really viewed as an outsider,
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and particularly going after alger hiss was thought to be an unforgivable sin. so, he was not completely trusting of the bureaucracy. so he had a very small group, and winston was one of the leaders, along with dick, with the lead up to it. they put together the framework. and then, having more and -- having a more experienced counsel to provide the actual framework, the agency was completely ached. --"baked." >> now we have a distinction between an s s m -- between nssm's and nsc's, what was the difference?
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and all of you can chime in by the way. the national security decision memoranda, number two, was the one that created a different structure that would change the way people were in charge. >> yes, that was the complication of everything he wanted. as a result of the discussion of the transition at his own thinking, that is his -- that is exactly what he had written down and what he had approved. in the memorandum, it was approved, you can see it on the memorandum, it was approved without any other commentary on the side. no penciled notes on the outside, and no modifications. it was because he had earlier drafts presented to him before he got the final draft. >> a clean copy and a final analysis. how is this a much different than they had been before? >> we went to a hotel in 1958,
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and we met and nixon had wanted to get his views on how to get the system to the other -- system together. dick and others also contributed. the key thing about this new system was that who chairs the committee. the person who chairs the committee sets the agenda and runs the show, and i actually -- and actually make sure what is put into effect. there was six basic committees. one for general foreign-policy problems, one for crisis is -- crises that would arise, one that talked about foreign-policy issues, a verification panel that looked arms control, and to cu intelligence committees -- two intelligence committees.
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all of these were chaired by henry kissinger. all of these agencies had a chance to get their views on these, and he wanted another option. nixon genuinely wanted different policy recommendations of which agency supported it, and the pros and the cons, the expenses, and the risks. he used to joke that we would get three options, and the first would be unconditional surrender, the second would be nuclear war, and the third would be continued present policy. these were serious options. the other thing that you wanted to make sure was it was a strategy and that you are not just reacting to crisis. this was just the system the dominated foreign-policy in terms of the white house.
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we had several factors. secondly, it was a distrust of others. it was about bringing a deleted trust to were also imaginative and innovative. thirdly, he had the guts to appoint henry kissinger and not nelson rockefeller. he was a jewish immigrant from harvard. and then you had a terrific staff, present company excluded of course, and they all work harder than the state department. then you had issues that we will get into, that let themselves to a close-knit operation and the secretive operation. the three key issues were in vietnam, china, and russia. these are some of the factors that led to the domination by the white house. >> i wanted to focus on us.
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because it was different than before. who chaired this? there was always the inter-agency discussions in the eisenhower and kennedy and the johnson administration. but who was the chair? >> i don't want to but in here, but even under the nixon era, you had the under secretary, who was essentially a person who would look at issues sometimes before they got to the nsc. but in previous administrations, the key committees were generally chaired by the secretary of state or his deputy, as opposed to the nsc. >> but -- bud, you are a military guy. talk to us about your perspective from the military.
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>> this was very welcome to the military, these plans were always looking over the horizon and look at what could go wrong, what might happen in the middle east, soviet union, or russia now. so the system the resident nixon put in place would put a premium on planning. how should we approach east-west, or soviet relations? what are the economic military relations and how we can bring together all of the u.s. resources to focus on their vulnerabilities, and by the way, what is the cost of doing option one, option two, and option three? because financially, there are risk, and politically there are allies, and so forth. so the military welcome to the system. it is fair to state, however, that the cabinet officers are strong-willed people normally,
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and you would really have to a talented staff. when you brought together the exports -- experts from the cia and so forth around the table, they had credentials also. it was only by death of the excellence of people like bill sonnenfeld, bill simon, and other practicing diplomats of scholars, who furred -- who for decades already were trusted, when they went to these interdepartmental meetings, they brought information and they spoke with authority. yes they were backed by the white house am a but they were intellectually up to the job.
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they were not there as patsies listening to ideas that might have been a little bit fringe, or whatnot. so it was not the president who was just as keenly well-informed, he was a scholar himself, and it was not just dr. kissinger, but it was also subordinates who were really up to the task of the great work -- grit work. they brought to the president options that made a lot of sense. he would pick one, and they were the people who cracked the whip after he made a decision about our policy towards the soviet union. if any cabinet agency began to go off the reservation and very
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a little bit, they would get a call from sonnenfeld or someone else. in short, it was a disciplined system. it was a system that studied matters exhaustively and came to decisions, and publish them. it is almost unique in american history's that it -- history that in those years, every american could go to a bookstore and get a copy of the national security policy of the united states. every year. it covered every region. and arms control, and trade, and so forth. it was not a furtive," a secret operation, except when needed -- furtive, close-hold, secret operation, except when needed. it was open. and its successes bear that out. >> no system is perfect. bad systems can do for and follow -- do foreign-policy.
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but get systems can succeed. in contrast, nothing is perfect, especially if that is what the president wants, above all. but nixon and kissinger wanted something that was formal and that everyone was involved, and usually there was only one recommendation to the president. the compromises were hashed out before they even got to the president parsed s -- president's desk. also, it the difference leaned heavily on dulles, where is nixon lead hat -- heavily on his national security advisor. they would get together every tuesday for lunch because they were worried about leaks and
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they wanted to look at fast-moving decisions. that had the distance -- that advantage of speed, but you did not always have carefully prepared agendas for the lunch. it had different interpretations of decisions that were made during lunch, and even different implementation. >> i would add one postscript here. and a second later i will come back to bud. president nixon had the good sense to pick and recognize the legislative arm in all of this, and to pick the premier fellow in all of washington and that was bryce harlow. he had originally written, among other things, that part of eisenhower's farewell speech, where he warned of the
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military-industrial complex. bryce was a lobbyist, heaven for fend, and that was when matt lloyd -- michael roy -- mackleroy had been the secretary of defense. beginning in 1969, 1968 actually, there was congressional understanding and congressional funding and of course, congressional approval of policies. i think the nixon system engendered respect on the part of the legislature.
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i saw that he had a plan, a program, he had things in hand, and he did not waste any time implementing those. that kind of perspective build support, and the legislative support, for the funding of programs that is necessary. >> i want to go back and say the point that winston made, where it was the best. they might not have made national figures, but they were the best in their fields. john, jump in to comment. >> it is important to understand where the national security council came from. it did not happen and come into full bloom in 1947, but it was one of the most bitter and contentious periods that makes today's partisanship look like kindergarten. in the years of 1946, 8047, and 1948, -- 1947, 1948, there was
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bitter policy. you have to remember that when franklin roosevelt took office for the first year, and his first term, his white house staff was five people. his was true cabinet government. he wanted to hear directly from each of the service chiefs, from the secretary of the military department, and so forth. there was no such thing as a national security staff. gradually, as the war went on and the chiefs became more -- running back and forth every day
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during the war -- that increased somewhat, but there never really was a national security council. >> they were not running back to the pentagon, the pentagon did not exist at that point. >> there was the war department, and by the end of the war, it was in that five sided building, and there was the navy department down by the mall, and that is another story about how they got kicked out of their. the fact is, the cabinet were the officers and the president's advisors. they met daily during the war. then truman came in. truman really kind of burned about the way that roosevelt had such a powerful persona and had the tenure of four terms, and was running policy completely. >> he wasn't included a burned him that way. >> no, he was not included. in his memoirs and gray by
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re-freeze, he really, really disliked the navy and the navy department. roosevelt always referred -- when he was talking about this navy -- he always said "we" and "us," and when he talked about the army, he always said, "them," and "those guys." he thought that they had much more power than they should. >> you have to be very careful. >> roosevelt was an assistant secretary of the navy. >> yes, under josephus daniels. the fact that there was an attempt in the truman white
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house to seize back control from both the state department and especially the two military department, there was a huge battle over the consolidation and the creation of the sense -- the creation of the department of defense. the secretary of the navy, really wrote a lot of the 1947 act. part of creating a national security council was, indeed, his -- he wrote it with his friends on the hill. it was to get control of the way that truman was running policy, trying to consolidate things, particularly clark clifford and a few others, and the cabinet, particularly the new defense
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department, and the state department, were frozen out of the policy. the nsc was thought up by forrestal, who was the first secretary of defense, and dean atchinson, and they were trying to get back in control. the way it was originally organized, it was staffed by serving military officers and foreign service officers. there was no budget for a national security council staff. truman never used it. he resented it. he just was furious about the whole establishment of it. so he never used it. eisenhower turned it into a
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military staff. and then after that, it reflected how interested a president was in foreign-policy and national security. lbj was much more interested in civil rights and domestic affairs, so vietnam became the total, but having a concept and a vision as to how the rest of the world should be, he just was not interested. the nsc reverted to a very ad hoc tuesday lunch kind of ad hoc meeting, so sometimes the cabinet officers had to weigh on things that he was not interested in, and they never knew what was going on. it was a major change, and then when president nixon came in, huron is this guy who -- here was this guy who, critics of
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watergate say, was not interested in domestic and social policy, he was really interested in national security policy, and kissinger he found his alter ego. their structure, whatever process that was used to build it and put in place, was designed to bring all of that back in and and orderly and structured fashion. -- an orderly and structured fashion. >> none of us want to denigrate the other agencies. in fact, very many abled people took care of a lot of issues. also, they had to implement what
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was decided by the nsc. all of us would not deny that the white house dominated a lot of secrecy, as we will get into later, but they still provided a lot of information that was needed by the president. >> there is just one little component, the other point that i would like to make, is that all that we find in the memorandum that was submitted by the president, including what was the united states information agency in the process. to my utter surprise, i was walking to my first national security council meeting, probably in early january or later january, across the street from the eob. ipass frank shakespeare, i said frank i will see you at the nsc meeting. he said, what nsc meeting?
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that's when i realize that his agency was not in the meeting. they had simply been dismissed. nixon himself did not mind that the exclusion had occurred. henry did not trust them. >> you guys talk about, and certainly others will -- others have written about, the national security staff, and yet as somebody has pointed out, you guys were really young. you were very young. why do you just talk through how you found your way. let's start with bud.
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>> i was a parade -- beret officer at the time. my office was next door to henry kissinger. i saw the opportunity to be interviewed for his military adviser position. then over time, i began to focus on working on handling intelligence dimensions of the relationship with china. also the sharing of sensitive intelligence information that the chinese would tell you was not in the american cards that were being played against the soviet union. >> it was trying to gain the chinese confidence. >> it was immensely valuable to both countries. they got periodic briefings on
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soviet military deployment, what was their strength, their readiness, what about able deployments, what about soviet aid programs to india, but in short, providing chinese intelligence that they could count on that was immensely valuable. if you were in moscow the time, and suddenly this was going on, it not only enabled you to keep 45 divisions on the chinese border, now that the americans were allied in supportive, but of those 45 divisions, we do not have to worry about them in europe treated or at least not as much. -- europe. or at least not as much written -- as much. nixon's policy was adopted part
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and parcel by the reagan administration in 1982. we are talking about the nixon administration, we were very very strong-willed cabinet officers -- there were very, very strong-willed cabinet officers that disagreed with these policies in the reagan administration. but nixon wanted these disagreements to be aired in the meetings, and decisions made in neck they are so, but, in order to do that, you had to have a strong white house staff they could bring an honest disagreements, analyze the merits of each, and the nixon
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model with dr. kissinger really established a process. it would get the best from the bureaucracy, including the disagreements, options, make decisions, and then oversee the implementation of policy that brought such excess in the china opening and the middle east diplomacy, and the arms control agreement, and so forth. and similarly, later in the reagan years, successful policies that accelerated the collapse of marxism in the world, and ended the cold war, the reduction of nuclear weapons for the first time in history, and all it involve enough a model that was very similar to the nixon years. >> go ahead. by the way, everybody feel that you can -- >> we don't comment on these everyday. the basic patterns of what the president wants to delegate, all presidents have to make the most difficult decisions.
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it really does not matter whether we are focusing on domestic or international policy. you had four delegating the information to kissinger, and he had nixon. none of these systems are perfect. they all had their advantages and disadvantages. >> i think there is one dimension where, had we all been able to go back to the creation, we might have asked for more help in the drafting. congress is hardly mentioned in any of these documents. while the nsc meetings and the agendas and the options were really the finest put together,
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ever up to that point, it was a 500 pound gorilla in the room that was never considered. >> that was your job, right? >> yes, and at one point there was a meeting, and the single aggression a leader -- the congressional leader said, "god dammit, nixon, you got a get congressional input." >> i think somebody pointed this out, but the economic to mentions of foreign policy requires attention. in all fairness, economic power is absolutely crucial. in those days, it was less important.
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what is more important than being in the system. >> in respect to that, the shortcoming became so apparent by 1971, that nixon created the council on national economic policy, i know because i was shanghaied to come back to help peter peterson. i was to build a council on economic policy, for the secretaries on commerce, labor, and agriculture, and all of those were international issues that begin to burn my 1971. dumping japanese television
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sets, expropriation of various american properties abroad such as in chile, and worries there, so that dimension really took off because of nixon. when we speak of president nixon as an architectural president, which is the overarching theme of our discussion today, that discussion was stimulated by pressure from congress and pressure from the secretary of the treasury and who was a very strong voice and who is often thought to be nixon's successor. >> the person that everybody seems to who is not on the stage is the assistant to the president. he was part of the inner circle. he wave your hand -- wave your hand, tom. [laughter]
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>> crisis. we have not dealt with crisis. >> nixon and kissinger set up a system where every agency would have a role that would contribute to the and s s m -- nssm. these were given to next and by -- these were given to nixon by kissinger and it would reflect -- >> always an audit number. >> always an odd number. kissinger would also recommend the pros and cons and say however, i recommend option b. it was suddenly getting a vote that was superior in some ways
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to the agency. winston, you made a point in your writing that the system was not only unique to nixon and to kissinger, what it was needed at the time. it centralized the need of issues and is suited itself to the power in the white house because of the country and the issues we were dealing with. >> we were dealing with is intellectually stimulating system. i was putting together these briefing books. there was a strategy before you got the specific choices, and that was true of almost every issue. what you are referring to is the three most important issues when nixon face when he came into the office. trying to open china, that the
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top of the soviet union, and the ending of the vietnam war -- the d├ętente with the soviet union, and the ending of the vietnam war. there was an economic component, i might add. it was urgent. you did not have to worry about public policies, so all three of these issues lend themselves to delicate negotiations out of the public spotlight, so there is a lot of sensitivities with these three issues. therefore, it lent itself to the nixon-kissinger approach. we want to get into the secrecy issue at one point. from the outset of the ministration, it lent itself to white house control and secrecy. that had pluses and minuses. it was part of the reason that
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they went about diplomacy in this way. >> with respect to the opening of china, it is also important to recognize that nixon wrote an article in october for the october 1967 issue of foreign affairs. he wrote it almost entirely by himself, along with ray price, pat buchanan, and richard whelan, and i participated in this as well, but this article really telegraphed the opening to china. nobody paid attention to it. it is quite cryptic. it is called "asia after vietnam," and nixon calls for a series of summit meetings and the opening of asia. but nobody picked it up and nobody -- and he did not elaborate on it.
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people thought that it was nixon referring to his secret plan for vietnam. but he never had a secret plan for vietnam. that initiative was in place during -- place. now, i participated and was walking out with henry, and it don't know -- and i don't know if you are walking out of this meeting as well, and he said find a way to get in touch with china. that was the last remark out of the door from the oval office walking down the hall. and henry muttered, "is he crazy?" well, he himself became the
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vehicle to get in touch with china. >> it was beyond that. i fit for your first, 1969, 1 week -- on february 1, 1969, one week after the inauguration, henry agreed with the concept as well, by the way, but he certainly agree that the opening to china with helpless with the russians and do a lot of other things, that there is no question that this was one of nixon's basic impulses from the beginning within one week of his inauguration. by the way, he did not have a secret plan for vietnam. but he wanted to use the russians to squeeze hanoi. he wanted to construct the best possible version of events.
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>> you both talk about how kissinger got control of the bureaucracy. tell us how to nixon and kissinger would let the world know that the action was in the west wing of the white house and not in any other agency. >> in one of the referendums, there was a reference to an annual statement. those annual statements became very important. you could go to the government printing office and get a copy of the american principles and policy, and it was bound for the year and beyond. it stated the country's goals for the next year. >> we would beat out these issues in san clemente every year. the president was only interested in vietnam. for example, in china, those
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reports gave a lot of indication of what direction we were going to take with china. people sort of overlooked it. >> yeah, i think it -- i think it is worth talking about for a little bit longer. this is the first time the administration had said publicly, and not in a boilerplate bureaucratized language, this is where we want to go. and kissinger and nixon and i know you are part of it winston, you would take for guys -- four guys and go to san clemente and create white papers for the ministration. >> one last introduction to this, although it did not get
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attention from the press and from the domestic audience that it should have, the foreign audience understood. if you try to draft a document for kissinger, he always rejected the first draft. it was made inherently worthless. i was doing a section on indochina, and it was about 30 pages, this first draft. i did not even read it because i knew he would reject it.
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on page 15 i put in a sentence that was grammatically correct, but consisted of titles of all of kissinger's books. he caught it. i wanted to chime in there. >> this far -- thus far, we have talked about the planning and the thoroughness of american policy for every part of the world. that planning was really part of an important part of the nixon administration. there are things that happened it don't anticipate. wars, crises overseas that involve american interest, so what you do when you have a crisis? that was equally as impressive as the long-term planning, and the way the president nixon organize his team. probably the most salient example was during the presidency, and the yom kippur war of october of 1973. kissinger for distance -- had been confirmed as secretary of state. i mention this primarily,
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however, because it didn't end well. you can read about that. you can see a forum like this one the focuses entirely on the middle east war. i mention of foreign entirely different reason. it was because of the resume -- the resilience and the strength of president nixon who remembered the circumstances. here was an american ally, israel, attacked from two sides, syria and egypt, and losing. and it looked like for about a week's time, israel was going to suffer a pretty serious defeat. president nixon, however, here, seeing the importance of avoiding that catastrophe, was himself besieged by the watergate problem. a challenge that have lasted
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over a year now. he was being attacked by members of congress and others and the press. and an ally was about to go under. it required personal composure and vision of where he wanted this to and -- and -- end, and he got the aid of dr. kissinger and some subordinates and the department of defense. bear in mind, the pressures of watergate, and his vice president was about to resign. and the survey union had its own interest to get back into the middle east, and it was looking for ways to undermine american policy, to the point of it even alerting seven airborne divisions to go back to egypt
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and to tip the balance in favor of egypt. you had threats by the arab countries to impose an oil embargo which could have brought down not only our economy but the global economy, so this is not your average afternoon walk in the park if you are the president facing these kinds of stresses. but throughout, and indeed the vice president did resign in that first two-week. in october, the president was there to make the decision. when things came off the american defense production line, the battlefield was turned around so that israel could avoid being defeated. but then, the evolution of any crisis, in this case the tipping
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of the balance in favor of israel, which almost brought in the soviet union's airborne division, and it caused an alert on the american side, a la 1962, or almost, but he stood there like a rock. making decisions and ensuring that the aftermath not only was the security of egypt and the arab states restore to a measure of stability, but, an opening
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was created for the first time since israel became a state, for a dialogue with an arab leader who had the statesmanship and the character to be willing to engage against the counsel of every arab country and engage with israel and lay the foundation for the first peace treaty between israel and an arab state. the president was able to do that, notwithstanding all of the pressures he was under, through the system that he ran and managed, regardless of his own personal circumstance, through the excellence of dr. kissinger, now his secretary of state -- >> he could write a memo to himself because he was also the defense secretary at the same time. >> that's right. >> i want to get back to the president. he did have the guts and the intelligence. they did not let israel wipe out the egyptian army, because that would have made it psychologically difficult for the arab negotiations. so they have a cease-fire.
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i was involved in that. we went to moscow. they had some dignity and self-respect to negotiate, and israel was losing its hubris, so both sides were ready to negotiate. you not only have to manage the crisis, but you had a specific committee called the westsag, and that would only work if you had a couple of things intellectually in place. one, a strategy for the region. it is not like a recipe that you're going to pull off, but if you do some contingency planning, and you think about a region strategically early on, so when a crisis breaks out, you at least have some background with which to maneuver and to tailor your tactics.
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